It’s about time: Arizona to launch investigation of Operation Fast and Furious

January 23, 2012

It’s bad enough when states have to act to enforce federal law that Washington itself refuses to enforce, as did Arizona and other states when they passed tough anti-illegal immigration laws. But what is a state or local government supposed to do when the federal government is not just refusing to enforce the law, but may itself be one of the lawbreakers?

Answer: Start your own investigation.

Arizona’s state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration’s disgraced gun-running program, known as “Fast and Furious,” the speaker of the state House said Friday.

Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation.

(…)

Mr. Tobin will announce the committee’s jurisdiction at a press conference in Phoenix on Monday. The committee is charged with looking into the facts about the program, what impact it had on Arizona and whether any of the state’s laws were broken.

A report is due back by March 30.

To recap, Operation Fast and Furious (aka “Gunwalker”) was a program that fed thousands of heavy-duty firearms to Mexican drug cartels, without the knowledge of the Mexican government. Guns were purchased by “straw buyers” who were allowed to walk the firearms over the border into Mexico. The originator of this scheme was the United States Department of Justice, which, through its subordinate law-enforcement agencies, pressured legitimate gun dealers in Arizona to sell these weapons knowing that these sales were likely violations of federal statutes and regulations.

The ostensible purpose was to trace these weapons back to their cartel users, though how that was supposed to work given that the weapons were untraceable until they showed up at Mexican and US crime scenes is unknown.

What is known, however, is that over 300 Mexican military, federal agents, police officers, and civilians are dead from weapons obtained via Gunwalker. In addition, at least one and maybe two US federal officers also were killed with “walked” guns. And the Department of Justice is stonewalling congressional investigating committees, to the extent that –and it appalls me to have to write this– a high-ranking DOJ official is now “pleading the Fifth.” (1)

So, having had enough, the State of Arizona is launching its own inquiry, with the possibility of criminal action down the road.

I wish our neighbors to the East good hunting.

via Big Government

RELATED: Hot Air has news video on the Arizona investigation. See these earlier Gunwalker posts for background links.

Footnote:
(1) Probably because he wants a deal and refuses to be the fall guy. Rats and sinking ships, and all that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Advertisements

Lying or incompetent? The Janet Napolitano edition

October 28, 2011

So, which is it, Madame Secretary? Or is it both?

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet “The System Worked” Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee and did her best Sergeant Schultz impression, claiming she knew nothing about Operation Fast and Furious (aka Gunwalker) until Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed late last year:

House Republicans on Wednesday turned their sharp questioning over “Operation Fast and Furious” toward Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who acknowledged her agents were twice told to “stand down” in deference to what she called a “very troublesome” operation.

Napolitano, at one point likening the questioning to a cross-examination, said repeatedly she only learned of “Fast and Furious” after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December. She emphasized the operation, conceived and run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, “was an ATF operation,” under the auspices of the Justice Department, not her department.

Well played, Janet! Denying knowledge of Gunwalker while pointing a big finger at Justice! Guess your boss isn’t the only one who can throw people under the bus.

Call me “cynical,” but Secretary Napolitano’s testimony lacks a certain something… Let’s call it “credibility.”

Look at the facts: Janet Napolitano was Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, when Barack Obama appointed her DHS Secretary. Arizona has a huge problem with cartel-related smuggling and violence. She would have been intimately familiar with the problems on her southern border. It is inconceivable that, both as the immediate past governor of a key state, a cabinet official,  and head of the agency charged with security of the US border, she would not have been briefed on a major cross-border gun-smuggling operation, particularly when we were running it.

Consider also that Dennis Burke, her former chief of staff when she was Arizona’s governor and a senior adviser to her at DHS, was the US Attorney for Arizona during Operation Fast and Furious and participated in the inter-agency task force overseeing the operation fiasco.

This is Napolitano’s former chief of staff, someone she worked closely with for years, whom she probably helped get the US Attorney’s job, and who was her protege in Arizona politics. Does she seriously expect us to believe he never briefed her, never even mentioned it to his friend and mentor? Remember, Gunwalker started in mid-2009; Agent Terry was killed in November, 2010.  For over a year, Burke told his friend the Director of Homeland Security nothing? Nor was she briefed by anyone at the DoJ?

Seriously, Janet?

Lying, incompetent, or both, folks. You make the call.

RELATED: Earlier posts about Gunwalker.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Fleecing the taxpayers: it’s not just the Chicago Way

September 23, 2011

Yesterday I linked to a John Kass column about how some union bosses are legally ripping off the taxpayers of Illinois. (ST covered it in much more detail here.) But lest one think this kind of “authorized corruption” is limited to Blue states like Illinois, California, or New York, consider how the public sheep are being sheered in deep-Red Arizona:

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

For top officers, the typical amount of annual release time is 2,080 hours, a full year of work based on 52 weeks at 40 hours each. They continue to draw full pay and benefits, just as if they were showing up for their regular jobs. But they are released from their regular duties to conduct undefined union business.

Union officials say the time is a good investment that leads to a more productive workforce. Critics say it amounts to an illegal gift of taxpayer money.

Be sure to read the whole thing. I’m not surprised the union officials think this is a good investment. While no mention is made of union political donations,  it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they “invest” a little cash (drawn from member dues) in the campaigns of pliant councilmen, which then leads to the sweetheart clauses that allow them to collect a public salary while never doing a bit of the work they’re being paid for. Or they threaten to use their members’ dues to campaign against uncooperative officials, giving them an incentive to play along to the detriment of the public interest.

This is what happens in general when labor unions are allowed to become a labor cartel, to have a monopoly over the supply of labor: with no fear of competition, union bosses can concentrate on feathering their own nests. (I wonder how long it’s been since Trumka actually got his hands dirty in a mine?) With public employee unions, the situation is even worse, since political leaders are negotiating with the public’s money, not their own, and thus have less incentive to worry about the economic consequences, which may not come about until years later. (I posted a good video explaining this last March.) Combine a labor cartel with control over other people’s money, and you have a recipe for what we see so often at the local, state, and federal levels: a kickback scheme.

It may not be illegal, but it surely is corrupt.

via Jazz Shaw

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Felony Stupid: Gunwalker guns now showing up at US crimes

July 3, 2011

Having just posted a video about Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it’s fitting that this post should be an example of chickens coming home to roost. It seems that some of the guns the BATF allowed to “walk” into Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious are coming back to be used here:

For months the ABC15 Investigators have been searching through police reports and official government documents. We’ve discovered assault weapons linked to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ controversial “Fast and Furious” case strategy have turned up at crime scenes in Glendale and Phoenix communities.

(…)

Weapons linked to the strategy have been turning up at dangerous and deadly crime scenes near both sides of the border, including the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed last December.

The ABC15 Investigators uncovered documents showing guns connected to at least two Glendale criminal cases and at least two Phoenix criminal cases also appear in the ATF’s Suspect Gun Database, a sort-of watch list for suspicious gun sales.

All four cases involve drug-related offenses. In one Glendale police report dated July 2010, police investigators working with DEA agents served search warrants at homes near 75th and Glendale avenues in Glendale, and 43rd and Glendale avenues in Phoenix as part of a “large scale marijuana trafficking” investigation.

Police investigators reported they “obtained information that members of the (trafficking) organization were using the homes…as stash houses used to store large amounts of marijuana temporarily.”

They reported finding hundreds of pounds of marijuana, more than $63,000 in U.S. currency and three guns inside the homes. One of the recovered weapons, a Romarm/Cugir WASR-10 rifle, appeared in an official ATF Suspect Gun Summary document in November 2009, proving agents knowingly allowed the suspicious gun sale, months before the weapon turned up at the crime scene.

In a separate Glendale Police Department case, dated November 2010, detectives discovered “bulk marijuana and weapons” inside a residence near 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale. Investigators recovered nearly 400 pounds of drugs and several firearms from the home.

One of the recovered weapons, another Romarm/Cugir WASR-10 rifle, appeared in an official ATF Suspect Gun Summary document in February 2010.

Check out the ABC 15 report and video for more incidents of Gunwalker guns showing up in Arizona. And if they are in Arizona, you can bet they’ll be turning up elsewhere in the US. Keep in mind that at least two US federal agents have been killed with Gunwalker guns, and roughly 150 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians. I fear it’s only a matter of time before more people are killed on this side of the border, with weapons provided by your United States government.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been holding hearings on Gunwalker; it was he who coined the phrase “felony stupid.” As his investigations and those of Senator Grassley (R-IA) continue, that word “felony” may well become more than an expression of exasperation.

LINKS: Previous posts about Operation Fast and Furious.

via Ed Morrissey

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


But… But… But Obama said the border was secure!

May 22, 2011

You probably remember Obama’s recent trip to Texas in which, during a speech in El Paso, he mocked, derided, and demagogued the legitimate concerns of those worried about the security of our southern border. He went so far as to claim his administration had done more than any before it to meet those concerns:

But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of Janet [Napolitano] and Alan [Bersin] and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns. Under their leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents at the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history.

So, see? There’s nothing to be concerned about. The border is safe! And pay no attention to those drug-cartel outposts inside Arizona:

Hiking through rough Arizona desert terrain a few miles north of the Mexican border recently with a group of armed DEA agents, we were approached by a lone U.S. Border Patrol agent. He warned we should be careful up ahead, because two people believed to be spotters for a Mexican drug cartel had just been seen running down a ridge to elude U.S. authorities.

By now, agents told us, the men were probably hunkered down in a cave or crevice to wait out the patrol. But just to be safe, the DEA agents spread out to cover more ground as they moved forward again, watching closely for the suspected Mexican surveillance team likely sent by drug traffickers to spy on American law enforcement officials on their own soil.

Making our way slowly to the rugged hilltops about a mile away, we came across several caves carved out of the rock by wind and rain. On the floor of one of them, we saw clear evidence that a surveillance team had been camping out. Two blankets were spread out next to a pair of shoes. Nearby were boxes of food, tarps, water jugs, toothpaste and a portable stove, on top of which was a pan with fresh cooking oil still in it.

Agents also found radio chargers and car batteries used to power communications gear. They told NBC producer-photographer Al Henkel and me that Mexican surveillance teams will work in these mountains for 30 to 60 days at a time.

“They locate themselves up on these ridgelines, up in caves, hidey holes, ‘spider holes’ we call them,” said DEA agent Todd Scott. He and the agents wondered if this particular “spider hole” was home to the two men just seen running away.

The report goes on to estimate there are 200-300 spotters operating in Arizona as far north as Phoenix and using military-grade gear to track US law enforcement movements and talk to each other in a sophisticated operation. Here’s a video report:

But, don’t worry; the border is safe.

Obama said so.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Arizona to Fed: “You sue me and I’ll sue you. Criss-cross”

February 11, 2011

Last year, the federal government filed suit against the state of Arizona to block enforcement of Arizona’s controversial* SB 1070 bill, that required Arizona law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, since Washington apparently refused to do so itself.

Now Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has fired back, suing Washington for failing to protect Arizona from invasion:

Arizona Governor Janice Brewer, in a filing today in federal court in Phoenix, accuses the U.S. government of failing to maintain operational control of the state’s border with Mexico, failing to protect it from invasion and violence and failing to enforce federal immigration laws.

“The federal government has effectively conceded its inability to protect Arizona and its citizens from criminal activities associated with illegal aliens,” Brewer said in the filing. “Within the last year, the federal government placed warning signs in the desert 80 miles north of the border and only 30 miles south of Phoenix warning people to stay away from the area.”

I believe Brewer is  relying on Article 4, Section 4 of the US Constitution:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Emphasis added.

Arizona has at least an arguable case, since the warning signs can be colored as refusal to defend a state’s territory and perhaps even a renunciation of sovereignty in those places. (Hey, if the government is telling citizens it cannot protect them on American soil, is it still American soil?)

On the other hand, an originalist interpretation of the relevant clause would probably** find that the Founders meant invasion by an army wielded by another sovereign power, and hence did not apply in this case. While the border problem is serious, the cartels are not sovereign powers (yet).

On the other-other hand, the 18th-century authors had experience of war on their frontiers with the Indian tribes — though they were treated as sovereign nations for legal purposes, so, forget that. Maybe a better originalist argument in favor of Arizona’s suit would be piracy, which colonies-turned-states had plenty of experience with. Surely the governors back then would have demanded federal help if pirates were raiding their coasts.

So, it’s a dicey proposition. Emotionally, I’m sick of the Fed not doing the things it is supposed to do, while refusing to do the jobs it’s charged with — such as border control. But, my gut feeling is that a judge will rule against the state. We’ll see.

*To open-border advocates, the ethnic grievance industry, and those they sucker

**In other words, I’m making a wild-arsed guess.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Because, you know, secret ballots are bad things

January 16, 2011

From the Department of Government Stupidity: the federal government has threatened to sue four states should they dare to guarantee secret ballots in union elections:

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday threatened to sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah over constitutional amendments guaranteeing workers the right to a secret ballot in union elections.

The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said the amendments conflict with federal law, which gives employers the option of recognizing a union if a majority of workers sign cards that support unionizing.

The amendments, approved Nov. 2, have taken effect in South Dakota and Utah, and will do so soon in Arizona and South Carolina.

Business and anti-union groups sought the amendments, arguing that such secrecy is necessary to protect workers against union intimidation. They are concerned that Congress might enact legislation requiring employers to allow the “card check” process for forming unions instead of secret ballot elections.

In letters to the attorney general of each state, Solomon says the amendments are pre-empted by the supremacy clause of the Constitution because they conflict with employee rights laid out in the National Labor Relations Act. That clause says that when state and federal laws are at odds, federal law prevails.

Solomon is asking the attorneys general in South Dakota and Utah for official statements agreeing that their amendments are unconstitutional “to conserve state and federal resources.”

In other words, “play along and we won’t bankrupt you in court.”

I’m no expert in the Supremacy Clause, but labor relations have traditionally fallen under a state’s police powers, though that’s been eroded over at least the last 80 years, since the New Deal, as the Fed has claimed a greater role.

But, really, does anyone seriously think this is anything other than an attempt force card-check through via regulation, instead of legislation, where it’s dead in the water? This is another case of arrogance on the part of unelected bureaucrats against the elected representatives of the peoples of four states, and I hope these states fight it tooth-and-nail.